Beyond the Bake Sale: Parents Can Make the Difference in Countless Ways
Everybody wins when parents volunteer ! Kevin Walker, the founder of Project Appleseed, a nonprofit organization, is helping schools involve parents. The organization has created a list of 37 different ways parents can help and is on its way to recruiting 5 million parent volunteers nationwide. Included: The Project Appleseed Parental Involvement Pledge.
PARENTS WANTED: Openings for volunteers at all schools. Many opportunities are available. Compensation: Countless rewards, including enhanced dialogue between parents and teachers, improved student behavior, and greater student commitment to academic achievement. All parents please apply.Kevin Walker, a parent of four school-aged children and a former presidential campaign organizer from St. Louis, Missouri, has always been active in his children's schools. He has continued to volunteer at a neighborhood elementary school after his youngest child moved up to the middle school. Walker knows first-hand the difference a volunteer can make.
PLEDGE REALLY WORKS!The pledge really works, Walker maintains. At first, he thought it was a little hokey. The success of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) convinced him, though. If it worked for MADD, Walker thought, it might work for schools too.
The reason the pledge has been effective is that parents have a variety of ways to help at school. Many parents say they are too busy to sit through meetings, so they don't volunteer because they don't want to commit to joining a school organization, Walker explained.
"The use of the pledge removes the barrier to parent involvement," Walker said. Schools can purchase a parental involvement tool kit from Project Appleseed or download the pledge from the Web site. Some schools use the Project Appleseed pledge, and others use it to help create their own school pledges.
Walker credits this approach for being particularly effective in many economically disadvantaged school districts. Some parents may feel they have nothing to offer or feel intimidated by the school. There is something for everybody on the long list of ways parents can help out at their children's school. Some activities Walker suggests parents could volunteer for at school include the following: